Sunday, 25 September 2011

an oxymoron for starters

Is it sacrilegious to speak of being a part time priest? Isn't the phrase an oxymoron? (Perhaps it is but it is also pleasantly alliterative, so I'll stick with it). But part time priest? Isn't priesthood an all encompassing calling for life which is rightly held up as a serious undertaking which cannot simply be switched off when you've 'done the hours'? Yes - however a 'non-stipendiary' Curacy in the Church of England comes with a certain number of hours per week, and this suits me, because I have another 'job' - and have had for nearly eighteen years - my job is the work of motherhood. I'm saved, if you like, by that little phrase 'part time' - it reminds me that amidst funeral preparation, sermon writing, study, phone calls and PCC meetings, I do need to hold back time and energy for my 'other job', even if it only really begins at 3.30pm with school pick up time.
So are demands of motherhood and priesthood in unredeemable conflict or do they merge beautifully into one joyful holistic experience? The clue is in being rather than doing. Whilst I do often switch off from both the sermon writing and the ironing, what I generally find is that I'm always a priest and always a mother.